On Dramaturgy for Fred's Diner

Sonia Fernandez
Jan 22, 2018
From playwright Penelope Skinner, a photo she took at a diner last weekend.

Fred's Diner starts previews TOMORROW! Here is the first of several posts offering a look inside the world of our production.

Fred's Diner is set in a roadside American-themed diner in England and, like much of Penelope Skinner's work, contains complex female characters -- in Fred's these are a trio of waitresses.

From dramaturg Hilary Flynn:

As dramaturg, you're responsible for helping the rehearsal team acclimate to the world surrounding the play.  With Fred's, I got to be an expert on England and diners, which meant I got to eat a lot of greasy breakfast and feel posh about it.  One day, I watched Mystic Pizza and called it dramaturgy.  Another day I drank a milkshake at St. Francis Fountain in the Mission and cried doing research about Uni.*

The women of Fred's Diner rock.  So I looked into waitress culture specifically.

In an article, written in 1941 for The Diner magazine, Sam Yellin lists the advantages of having women work in diners:

1. Women will work for less pay.
2. Women won't stay out late drinking and call in sick the next day.
3. Women belong around food.
4. Women will work harder than men.
5. Women are always happy.
6. Women are more efficient workers.
7. Women are more honest than men-- they don't steal.
8. Women can talk and work at the same time.
9. Women clean diners better than men.
10. Women are cleaner than men.
11. The customers like women better.
12. Customers don't swear in front of women.**

*Watching The Theory of Everything.

** Taylor, Candacy.  Counter Culture: The American Coffeeshop Waitress.  ILR Press: 2009.

Sonia Fernandez

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